Barbara Delinsky’s Sweet Salt Air {Review and Giveaway}

by Jennifer Donovan

5M4B disclosure

Ten years is a long time for best friends to not see each other face to face as they do in Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky. Charlotte and Nicole have been leading very different lives since Nicole’s marriage 10 years previously. After the wedding, Charlotte was simply to busy with life and her job as a journalist telling people’s stories all around the world. Nicole’s successful blog has turned into a cookbook deal, and she entices Charlotte to return to Quinnipeague, the island off Maine where Nicole’s family has a summer house.

Nicole can cook and create the table settings, but she’s looking for Charlotte’s writing expertise to pull the cook book together. Charlotte jumps at the chance, and Nicole’s husband is too busy working to spend the summer on the island with them, so it’s just the two girls working together to capture the magic of Quinnipeague for Nicole’s cookbook.

The tension is there between them, though Nicole seems oblivious to it. Charlotte’s secret takes awhile to come out to the reader and it creates a delicious anticipation as you try to determine why such good friends stayed apart and yet remain in constant contact via phone and email. It isn’t the only focus of the book, as several subplots help carry the book along and delve into additional characters.

Charlotte pushes Nicole to explore the end of the island where Cecily Cole lived, a woman shrouded in mystery on the island but also the owner of a beautiful garden that supplies most of the children herbs throughout the island. Cecily has passed on, but her son Leo now lives there. He was a bad boy when Charlotte and Nicole were teens summering on the island, and the stories about him as an adult aren’t an improvement. Nicole urges Charlotte to stay away to avoid a curse Cecily might throw on them, but Nicole can’t resist. And you know there’s a budding romance with Charlotte coming, as well as mystery about the truth of Leo Cole, as well.

The main emotional hook in the book is Nicole’s husband Julian. He was diagnosed with MS four years earlier but is telling no one, as he’s a leading surgeon who lectures and teaches all over the world and can’t afford to lose his career or reputation. The stress of keeping the secret from everyone – including her parents – is torture for Nicole, as Julian pushes her away. The MS is getting worse, and Nicole and Julian search for a way to halt the disease’s progress. Nicole finally breaks down and tells Charlotte about Julian’s MS, and Charlotte discovers she has a dilemma.

All the secrets threaten to come out surrounding all the characters in the novel, and there’s no way to tell exactly where the cards will fall. That’s the beauty of the book. It isn’t predictable, and the multiple plots keep you occupied and entertained throughout the novel. Each character is richly drawn, with flaws but still someone you want to root for. Whether it’s the stereotypical island native Dorey who runs the Qunnie Cafe and makes the best chowder anywhere or Rose Mayes, a 75 year old grandmother with slaw to die for, each person is distinct and personable and someone you want to sit down and observe for awhile.

Sweet Salt Air lasts for almost 400 pages, but it doesn’t feel nearly that long. It’s unusual to say that a novel this long is a quick read, but it is. I didn’t want to put it down and finished it in under two days. And yes, I cried in it. A book that can bring you to tears is definitely one to share with friends.

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Written by Michelle who is mildly jealous of the fictional Nicole’s blogging success. She also blogs about food and other topics on her own blog Honest & Truly! or you can find her on Twitter where she is also @HonestAndTruly.

Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Laura June 16, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Sometimes…it depends on my mood and where I am.


2 Cindy B June 17, 2013 at 3:54 am

I do! It leaves me thinking about the story for a long time.


3 Anne June 17, 2013 at 10:29 am

Yes, that means they are meaningful and special.


4 Liz June 17, 2013 at 11:23 am

I do, but I have to choose the right time.


5 Patricia Wojnar Crowley June 17, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Only if it’s a happy cry!


6 DEBIJOT June 17, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Yes, I do, sometimes


7 Katie June 17, 2013 at 2:28 pm

I love when books make me cry! I just need to break them up with happier books too!


8 Jessica To June 17, 2013 at 3:20 pm

I like books that bring out different emotions!


9 emily June 17, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Yes – I find it a good release.


10 Cindi June 17, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Yes, sometimes, I need a good cry and a book that
has a moment or experience that touches me, is
a wonderful one!
Thanks, Cindi


11 Jeanna June 18, 2013 at 11:24 am

I like all types of books, but the ones that make me cry are usually the good ones!


12 Charlene S June 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm

If it is a happy cry.


13 Shari June 18, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I don’t mind sad books, but I honestly am very rarely brought to tears by one.


14 Rosita June 18, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Not these days, I don’t.


15 Ellen B June 18, 2013 at 9:24 pm

sometimes – I enjoyed her other books


16 Seaside Book Nook June 18, 2013 at 11:12 pm

A good cry while reading a book – cleanses my soul! I haven’t had a good-cry-book in a long time. Thanks for the giveaway


17 Chelsea June 18, 2013 at 11:14 pm

it depends on my mood… sometimes I’m drawn to books that allow me to cry and other times i avoid them like the plague


18 rhonda June 18, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Every once in awhile I enjoy a good cry.


19 Brandy W. June 19, 2013 at 3:08 am

absolutely! it keeps you human


20 JJT June 19, 2013 at 9:05 am

A good cry can be restorative!


21 Madonna June 19, 2013 at 9:10 am

I only like ones that make me cry if they turn happy later on.


22 Beth C June 19, 2013 at 11:49 am

Yes, I do. I like books about friendship and I know I would like this one.


23 Melissa June 19, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Yes, I enjoy books that can pull me in enough that my emotions are tugged a bit.


24 Meg Munson June 19, 2013 at 1:23 pm

You knows it a great book when you cry:-)


25 jennifer June 19, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Looks like a wonderful book!


26 Karen W June 19, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Looks amazing – cannot wait to read this book!!


27 Kerrie Mayans June 19, 2013 at 2:39 pm

I like a book that makes me cry if I am in the right mood for it.


28 Jessica June 19, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Yes, I do


29 Anne Lehnick June 19, 2013 at 10:13 pm

I haven’t read a book that made me cry in a long time. I could stand to do it again now!


30 Holly Messana June 20, 2013 at 9:37 am

I don’t actually know if I have ever read a book that made me cry. Movies, yes, but not a book.


31 Anita Yancey June 20, 2013 at 7:09 pm

I love reading any book that can make me cry or laugh. They both make me feel better afterwards.


32 nannypanpan June 21, 2013 at 12:17 am

it depends on my mood


33 Jessica T June 21, 2013 at 6:30 pm

For sure . . . a good release!


34 LaVonne June 22, 2013 at 2:45 am

Yes, I love books, movies, and even commercials that make me cry.


35 Chris June 23, 2013 at 6:54 pm

It is nice to be able to get really pulled into a book – makes it a good one!


36 Michelle Tucker June 28, 2013 at 2:07 am

Sometimes, but I’ve got to be in the right mood.


37 LaNan R June 28, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Yes, however, I like to read those books when I’m alone. :)


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